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  • Writer's pictureDamian Kerlin

Honour Father’s Day in a way that includes all LGBTQ families

Today, we don’t assume that families all look the same, like they did in 1950s TV shows—and that’s a good thing. More children than ever are being raised by single parents, adoptive parents, same-sex parents, or in blended families. They all deserve respect and support. Some, like LGBTQ families, might feel excluded on Father’s Day. Here is how you can help them feel seen and supported if they want to be included.

Understand how children in LGBTQ families might feel

Gender-specific events—like father-daughter dances at school or a holiday such as Father’s Day—can feel different to different families. This can be especially hard for teens and younger children, who don’t always like to feel different. If there is a Father’s Day activity at school, for example, kids being raised by two mums might feel like they don’t belong. This is especially true if they aren’t out to friends or teachers about their family structure. Some may use Father’s Day as an opportunity to speak up about what their family looks like but others might keep quiet to blend in with the crowd. We should never assume every family has a mother and a father, period.

Acknowledge how LGBTQ families celebrate—or don’t

LGBTQ couples may choose to celebrate one, both, or neither parent on Father’s Day. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Transgender parents may not celebrate according to traditional gender norms. If you have an LGBTQ family in your life and you’re unsure about wishing them a happy Father’s Day, ask if and how they celebrate instead of making assumptions. LGBTQ parents tend to have some tradition around the holidays, whether we honour one parent on Father’s Day or an uncle, grandfather, or donor. Like many other situations, we have to be intentional about how we celebrate.

It’s also worth remembering that it often takes LGBTQ families longer to have children than a heterosexual couple. Whether it be via surrogacy, adoption, foster care, or assisted reproductive technology, it generally takes longer to form our families. Father’s Day can be a challenging time for these families, as it can be for anyone struggling to become a parent. It reminds us of the family we so desperately desire but have not yet achieved.

How you can be an ally to the LGBTQ families in your life and your school community

There is sometimes a sense of burden having to always explain ourselves, our families, and our needs. These holidays tend to be platforms for visibility and speaking out. Be proud of your family and talk about them. The more we hear about different kinds of families, the more inclusive we’ll become. But building a broader definition of what it means to be a family shouldn’t be the responsibility of LGBTQ families alone. We can all help. Choose toys and books with diverse characters. Talk to your children about all types of families. Teach them to respect one another’s differences, and be a good role model, too. If a child asks if a family can have two mums, say yes. Remind them that families come in different combinations, but what matters is that the kids are cared for and loved.

What ALL families can do to make Father’s Day more inclusive

Friends and family can be supportive of an LGBTQ family by honouring how they choose to spend the holiday. They can put an emphasis on all the loving relationships a child has instead of a specific relationship they may not have. Any parent can talk to schools about planned Father’s Day or gendered activities—not only LGBTQ parents. Another way to include all families is to ask store managers for gender-neutral or otherwise inclusive holiday cards. If you see some at your card store, let them know you appreciate it.

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